Last week I participated in the Twitter chat #bridalbabble, which I now do every Wednesday at 4pm (Eastern) —join us!— and one of the brides mentioned that she learned a valuable lesson when she and her fiancé had a friend shoot their engagement photos. The photos did not come out well and required a lot of editing before the couple could use them.
It reminded me of what happened 10 years ago when my husband and I got married. A very good friend offered to video tape our wedding as part of her gift to us. We accepted and were very excited. She taped the ceremony and the crucial parts of the reception (the cocktail hour entertainment, bridal party entrance, speeches, cutting the cake, etc).
We were married in early October and a few weeks before Christmas, I inquired about the videos. My friend told me she had actually borrowed the video camera from a friend of hers because she didn’t have her own, and she was waiting for the friend to burn the videos onto a CD. Long story short, for months her friends were too “busy” and then started dodging her calls.
Finally, about three weeks before our first anniversary, I told my friend I wanted to call these people directly and demand my videos. So I called up, reached the husband, and as politely as I could gave him the riot act. He told me that he didn’t think they had my wedding anymore because their computer crashed just days before I called.
Ultimately, they lost our entire ceremony (you know, the part you barely remember because of nerves, emotions, and excitement) but they were able to recover the reception video. We were grateful for that, but I really wanted our ceremony video for so many reasons: to see our faces when we first saw each other, to hear our vows and the duet our friends sang for us, and to see my friend, the priest who married us and has now since passed away.
All of this is to say that if a friend offers to photograph or videotape your wedding, or for financial reasons you need to rely on a friend, be sure you trust them. Based on my experience, here are some things you should consider:
- Make sure it’s someone who will take the task seriously.
- Ask them to show you the equipment they plan to use and see if they can bring a backup camera (and if they’re borrowing it, make sure they a.) know how to use the camera and b.) create the disc, thumb drive, or cloud folder for you before returning the camera – avoid the middleman).
- Ask if they’ve shot a wedding before and see if they can show you any pictures.
- Ask if they have any experience shooting in different lighting situations – even professionals can struggle with dark ballrooms and other lighting issues.
- Have a conversation with that friend about expectations and your desires.
Good quality professional photographers and videographers are absolutely worth the money, however, sometimes couples need to save money in this area. But know that unless the friend is a professional giving you the gift of free or discounted work, or is naturally a talented photographer, you may not get professional results. I just want you to end up with beautiful, clear photographs (and/or videos) because once the wedding day is over, the memories and the images are what remain.